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An unarmed Black man was killed after being struck and “run over” by a pursuing unmarked police vehicle in Michigan, prompting a number of unanswered questions, civil rights attorney Ben Crump says.

Samuel Sterling, 25, died last week from his injuries after an unidentified Michigan State Police (MSP) officer apparently used his official vehicle as a weapon.

According to a press release sent to NewsOne, Sterling fled after multiple officers approached him late on the morning of April 17. Sterling was struck while running to a nearby fast-food restaurant. He was later pronounced dead in a local hospital.

Other details were not immediately available, but there have not been any reports of Sterling posing a physical threat to the officers involved.

Sterling’s death certificate lists the manner of death as an “accident,” a characterization disputed by Crump, who is legally representing Sterling’s family.

“It is unconscionable that Samuel Sterling was run over by a police officer’s vehicle in broad daylight. The Michigan State Police officers involved in Samuel’s death should be swiftly and thoroughly investigated for this senseless and preventable tragedy,” Crump said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “Samuel’s parents will never be able to hold their son again and his own children will grow up without a father. We demand answers and are seeking justice and accountability on behalf of Samuel’s family.”

Wood TV obtained a copy of Sterling’s death certificate, which also determined that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries” via a “pedestrian struck by a vehicle.”

According to the police narrative, Sterling “was wanted on multiple warrants” and began running when officers approached him at a gas station.

“Several officers pursued him on foot while one MSP officer in an unmarked vehicle drove parallel to him,” Col. James F. Grady II, MSP Director, said in a statement. “They ended up converging in the parking lot of Burger King on Eastern Avenue, where the vehicle driven by the MSP member struck Sterling.”

The officer whose vehicle struck Sterling was suspended, said Grady, who noted that “an African American male and a father, it’s not lost on me that this is the death of another young African American male following an interaction with police.”

Cops using police vehicles as weapons

Sterling’s death after being struck by a police vehicle was the second time in as many months that an unarmed Black male has been killed in such a manner.

It was also the second time in as many weeks that a Michigan police officer used a department vehicle to strike a suspect.

Earlier this month, Riley Doggett, 17, was struck by a vehicle driven by Kent County sheriff’s deputies during a brief chase. Doggett, who is white, suffered serious injuries from the incident.

Last month in Mississippi, Kadarius Smith, also 17, died after an unidentified officer with the Leland Police Department struck the teen as he and his friends were running away from a nearby home.

Smith’s mother has claimed her son was run over from behind as evidenced by tire tracks that were visible on his back.

Similar to Sterling, Smith was ultimately pronounced dead at a local hospital following being struck by the police car.

Sterling lived in Grand Rapids, which was sued in 2022 for the local police department’s alleged culture of unchecked racism and discrimination against Black people.

That lawsuit was sparked after Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese refugee, was shot in the back of his head at close range following a brief struggle with since-fired Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr.

This is America.


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147 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
Police killings 2020
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